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house, Mayor of Nauvoo, General of Militia, and a candidate for the Presidency of the United States.
We see, however, from these revelations (which were all given within twelve months from the publication of the book)
dimensions in the mind of its author. At first, he only claims to have miraculously discovered a sacred record, but does not himself pretend to inspiration. Soon, however, he proclaims that he is a prophet divinely commissioned to introduce a new dispensation of religion. And in April, 1830, he receives a revelation establishing him in that character, and commanding the 'Church' to 'give heed unto all his words and command'ments.' (D. C. sec. 46.) At the same time, it is announced that all existing sects are in sinful error; and their members are required to seek admittance by baptism into the new church of Joseph Smith. In accordance with this revelation, he proceeded to organise the Church of Latter Day Saints.' He and his earliest accomplice, Cowdery, baptized one another; and in the course of the month they baptized twenty or thirty other persons, including Smith's father and two brothers, who, from the first, took a profitable share in the imposture.
In the same year, the new sect was openly joined by one of its most important members, Sidney Rigdon, who had perhaps been previously leagued with Smith in secret. * This man had , been successively a printer and a preacher; and in the latter capacity, he had belonged to several denominations. It is but too evident, from the impure practices of which he was afterwards convicted at Nauvoo, that he was influenced by none but the most sordid motives in allying himself to the Mormonites. He was one of those adventurers, not uncommon in America, who are preachers this year and publicans the next, hiring alternately a tabernacle or a tavern. In point of education, however, Rigdon, though far from learned, was superior to his vulgar and ignorant associates. It was therefore revealed that he should take the literary business of the new partnership. (D. C. sec. 11.) Accordingly, the earlier portion of the Doc
trines and Covenants' (the Mormonite New Testament) was composed by him ; and he thus became the theological founder of the sect, so far as it had at that time any distinctive creed. For the ‘Book of Mormon' itself contains no novel dogmas, nor any statements which would be considered heretical by the majority of Protestants, except the condemnation of infant
* I. e. if we suppose that Rigdon was the person who had conveyed Spalding's MS. to Smith.
baptism, and the assertion of the perpetuity of miraculous gifts.* Smith had apparently left the work of Spalding unaltered, except by interpolating a few words on this latter subject, which were necessary to support his own supernatural stories. But Rigdon encouraged him to take a bolder flight. He announced the materialistic doctrines which have since been characteristic of the Sect; he departed from the orthodox Trinitarianism which had been adopted in the · Book of Mormon ;'t and to him may be probably attributed the introduction of baptism for the dead. Moreover, under his influence the constitution of the Mormonite Church was remodelled. Joseph had begun by adopting the ordinary Presbyterian divisions; but now a more complex organisation was introduced, and it was revealed that
the true crganisation was inyterian divisions eph had begun bor
existed in the primitive epoch - Apostles, Prophets, Patriarchs, Evangelists, Elders, Deacons, Pastors, Teachers; besides a twofold hierarchy of Priests, called by the respective names of Aaron and of Melchisedek. The object of this change was to give an official position to every active and serviceable adherent, and to establish a compact subordination throughout the whole body; an object in which no religious society except that of the Jesuits has more completely succeeded.
While rendering such services to his new associates, Rigdon did not neglect his private interests. He immediately obtained the second place in rank; and after a short time he compelled his accomplice to receive a revelation which raised him to equality with the Prophet. (D. C. sec. 85.) He was thus enabled to claim his fair share in the spoil of dupes whom he so largely contributed to deceive.
Under these new auspices the Sect made rapid progress. But while Joseph continued in the district where his youth was spent, there were many stumbling-blocks in his path. The indignation of his neighbours was naturally roused by the successful frauds of a man whom they had despised as a cheat and liar from his cradle. He vainly endeavoured to disarm such
had known him from boyhood were not easily persuaded to be
* It is a curious fact that the English Irvingites, who also hold the latter doctrine, sent a deputation with a letter, not long after the publication of the Book of Mormon,' to express their sympathy with Joseph Smith. The letter professes to emanate from a Council of • Pastors.' (XV. 260.)
• Q. How many personages are there in the Godhead ?--Ans. • Two.' (D. C. p. 47.)
ma vail hier this discipula intrude
s of the there. There most
lieve in his repentance. And since, in America, there is but a short step from popular anger to popular violence, it was his obvious policy to withdraw before the storm should burst. Rigdon had already made numerous converts in Kirtland, a town of Ohio; and a nucleus was thus formed to which new proselytes might be gathered in sufficient numbers to defend their master and themselves. Hither, therefore, Joseph removed, early in 1831. But though Kirtland was for some years the centre of his operations, yet he never intended to make it his permanent abode. He already perceived, that to avail himself fully of the advantages of his position, he must asseinble his disciples in a commonwealth of their own, where no unbeliever should intrude to dispute his supremacy. This was impossible in the older States of the Union, but it appeared quite practicable on the Western frontier. There land could be bought for next to nothing, in a territory almost uninhabited; and it might be reasonably presumed that a few thousand converts once established, and constantly reinforced by the influx of new proselytes, might maintain themselves against any attack which was likely to be made upon them. Acting on these views, Smith and Rigdon, after a tour of inspection, selected a site on the borders of the wilderness, which was recommended by richness of soil and facilities of water carriage. Joseph immediately put forth a string of revelations, which declared that • Zion' was in Jackson County, Missouri, and commanded all the Saints' to purchase land at the sacred spot, and hasten to take possession of their inheritance. (D. C. sec. 66. to sec. 73.)
Within a few months no less than twelve hundred had obeyed the call, and employed themselves with all the energy of American backwoodsmen in cultivating the soil of the new Jerusalem. These converts were mostly from the Eastern States, and seem to have been, in habits and character, superior to the common run of squatters. Colonel Kane, who visited them at a later period, contrasts them favourably as persons of refined • and cleanly habits and decent language' with the other 'border inhabitants of Missouri - the vile scum which our society, like
the great ocean, washes upon its frontier shores.' They seem to have consisted principally of small farmers, together with such tradesmen and mechanics as are required by an agricultural colony. Nor were they without considerable shrewdness and intelligence in secular matters, however inconsistent we may think their credulity with common sense. By their axes and their ploughs, the forest soon was turned into a fruitful field; their incadows were filled with kine, and their barns with
sheaves. Unfortunately for themselves, they did not unite prudence with their industry. They were too enthusiastically certain of their triumph, to temporise or conciliate. Their prophet had declared that Zion should be established, and should put down her enemies under her feet. Why, then, should they hesitate to proclaim their anticipations ? They boasted openly that they should soon possess the whole country, and that the unbelievers should be rooted out from the land. These boasts excited the greatest indignation, not unaccompanied by some fear; for the old settlers saw the number of their new neighbours increasing weekly, and knew that their compact organisation gave them a power more than proportionate to their numerical strength. Legally, however, there were no means of preventing these strangers from accomplishing their intentions. For every citizen of the Union had an undoubted right to buy land in Jackson County, and to believe that Joseph Smith, Junior, was a prophet. But in America, when the members of a local majority have made up their minds that a certain course is agreeable to their interests or their passions, the fact that it is illegal seldom prevents its adoption. The Jacksonians knew that they had at present a majority over the Mormonites, and they resolved to avail themselves of this advantage before it was too late, lest, in their turn, they should be outnumbered, and thereby be liable to those pains and penalties which are the portion of a minority in the Great Republic. The citizens of the county therefore convened a public meeting, wherein they agreed upon the following (among other) resolutions : –
That no Mormon shall in future move and settle in this country.
That those now here who shall give a pledge within a reasonable time to remove out of the country, shall be allowed to remain unmolested until they have sufficient time to sell their property.
' That the editor of · The Star,' (the Mormon paper) be required forthwith to discontinue the business of printing in this country.
That those who fail to comply with these requisitions, be referred to their brethren who have the gifts of divination and unknown tongues to inform them of the lot that awaits them.'
These resolutions were at once communicated to the Mormon leaders; but, as they did not immediately submit, the meeting unanimously resolved to raze to the ground the office of thic obnoxious newspaper. This resolution was forth with carried into effect, and the Mormon Bishop' (a creature of Smith's, who presided in his absence), was tarred and feathered, —an appropriate punishment enough, which had also been administered to his master, not long before, by a mob in Ohio.
Notwithstanding these hostile demonstrations, the Mormons could not bring themselves to leave their newly-purchased lands without resistance. They appealed to the legal tribunals for redress, and organised a militia, which maintained for some time a guerilla warfare against their antagonists. At length, however, they were overpowered by numbers, and abandoned their beloved Zion. But most of them found refuge in the adjoining counties, where they gradually acquired fresh property, and continued for four years in tranquillity.
Meanwhile their prophet had remained snugly established at Kirtland, which he wisely judged a more desirable home than the wild land of Zion, till the latter should be comfortably colonised by his adherents. Hence he sent out his apostles' and • elders' in all directions to make proselytes, which they continued to do with great success. The first duty imposed on all converts was the payment of tithing to the Church.' (D. C. sec. 107.) And those who received the commands of Joseph as the voice of God, did not hesitate to furnish this conclusive proof of the reality of their faith. On the strength of the capital thus placed at his disposal, Smith established at Kirtland a mercantile house and a bank. We find from his autobiography, that the whole Smith family were at liberty to draw without stint from the common stock; and their ill-gotten gains were squandered as recklessly as might have been expected. Embarrassment ensued, and several revelations called upon the saints for money to prop the Prophet's credit. * At length the crash came.
The firm failed, the bank stopped payment, and the managers were threatened with a prosecution for swindling. To escape the sheriff's writ, Smith and Rigdon were obliged to fly by night; and they took refuge among their followers in Missouri.
This occurred in the autumn of 1837, four years after the expulsion of the saints from Zion. That expulsion had painfully falsified the prophecies of Smith, who had so completely committed himself to the successful establishment of his people in the spot which he had first chosen, that he did not acquiesce in their abandonment of it without a struggle. In February, 1834, soon after their ejectment, he had promised their immediate restoration in the following revelation:
Verily I say unto you, I have decreed that your bretbren which have been scattered shall return .... Behold the redemption of Zion must needs come by power. Therefore I will raise up unto my people a man who shall lead them like as Moses led the children of Israel. .... Verily I say unto you that my servant Baurak Ale is
* See ‘Smith's Autobiography,' under date of March, 1834.